Hawks deny investigating Daily Maverick journalist

(iStock)
(iStock)

The Hawks have denied reports that it is investigating a Daily Maverick journalist, and has pointed out that a South African Police Services (SAPS) official has laid a charge against her in his personal capacity. 

In a statement issued on Monday, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the unit noted an article titled: "Intimidation and bullying by authorities is on the rise – South African National Editors Forum (Sanef)" dated July 26, 2019 and published by African News Agency (ANA).

"The article – edited by Moses Mudzwiti – alleges among other things, the Hawks are intimidating a journalist, Marianne Thamm, to reveal her sources. This allegation is devoid of the truth," Mulaudzi said in a statement on Monday.

ALSO READ: Death threats, intimidation, harassment: Sanef slams attempts to target journalists

Mulaudzi said Thamm had written the article "Top cop implicated in corruption by Nxasana and Booysen appointed acting head of KZN Hawks Organised Crime Unit" which was published on June 18.

"That article had serious inaccuracies and was seeking to impose its own views, presenting them as true facts.

"Based on the 18 June 2019 article, which clearly demonstrated that the journalist had internal communiqué, Colonel Sthembiso Mhlongo laid a charge in his personal capacity at the Durban Central police station. He did not lodge a complaint on behalf of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks)," Mulaudzi explained.

The Daily Maverick article reported that Colonel Mhlongo, who was implicated in state capture commission of inquiry testimony for allegedly tipping off criminals about the Hawks' investigations, had been appointed acting provincial commander of the Serious Organised Crime unit in the province.

In a statement issued on Friday, Sanef condemned the intimidation and bullying of journalists in the country.

"Sanef has noted that these incidents have taken place just as its office-initiated efforts are under way to schedule a meeting to discuss crucial aspects of engagement between the media and the country’s law enforcement agencies with the national police commissioner, Khehla Sitole, and possibly, Police Minister Bheki Cele," chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said.

The Hawks said Sanef's comments were "regrettable, inaccurate and lacking balanced reporting".

"Had the DPCI been consulted, it would have been cleared that the directorate is not investigating such a complaint by Colonel Mhlongo. The matter is being investigated by the detective service at station level," Mulaudzi said.

The Hawks, however, confirmed that Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko has been subpoenaed. 

Hawks Gauteng spokesperson, Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu, told News24: "It is correct that the Hawks served a subpoena to Mr Bongani Siqoko based on an investigation which started last year. We cannot comment further on the ongoing investigation."

TimesLive reported that Siqoko was subpoenaed by the Hawks in connection with claims that former Eskom executive Matshela Koko was asked for a R3m bribe [on behalf of a former Sunday Times senior reporter], claiming that this would prevent the negative article from being published.

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